ground floor

It’s a bad time to launch a theatre company. 

I don’t know if there’s ever been a “good time,” — but right now seems particularly awful for myriad social, political, and financial reasons… many of them, the same as in the “before times” (i.e., pre-coronavirus) now exacerbated. In the fall, amid the pandemic, when I first started thinking about Docbloc, the idea scared me. I immediately wrote my concerns about starting a new theatre company:

Does the world really need another theatre company … and why am I the one to do it? 

What exactly can theatre do at a time like this? 

The NY “market” is saturated with small arts organizations that are all clamoring for some same scraps of resources (if that’s what you even want to call it), so why knowingly participate again?

Nonprofit arts systems are archaic and broken at best, toxic and destructive at worst – and a whole lot of mess in between. So how can I make something that doesn’t feed the system, and what would that look like? 

The list continued…

The truth is, during the pandemic, I was hellbent on not returning to the NY theatre in any capacity. I spoke with colleagues about it, many of whom felt similar. Before the pandemic, I was seriously questioning my place as an artist in NY, what is next, and feeling caught up in the cycle of staying busy as a status symbol without the feeling of actually accomplishing much of anything. Many mid-career artists identify with that experience of spinning in circles with no clear trajectory, either upwards or parallel (and there are plenty of structural reasons for that, which can be unpacked in future posts). Finally, I met with a creative coach, and we talked through these concerns. I raised the idea for Docbloc and she asked me to write down the reasons I wanted to create a theatre company again. 

I care about this work… documentary theatre, documentary genre, bringing together documentary artists across disciplines (ie: Docbloc’s mission) 

I want to make a space to create this work.

I want to make a space to support others in creating this work. 

Above all else, I truly believe we have to do the work to build the world we want to see, which means creating the “organizations” and “structures” that work for us (I put these words in quotes because maybe the things that work for us lack organization and structure in the ways we’ve been conditioned to think of them…) There is no “one size fits all.”

The purpose of this blog is to document Docbloc’s process – in making theatre, live performances, creating collaborations, and social practice. I intend for this blog to feature the voices of artists in our projects, notes, thoughts, photos, and videos, thinking through some big questions about art making, practice, and engagement. Docbloc is also an extension of and public component of my Ph.D. research (and I’ll talk more about that in a future post as well… as my timing for starting Docbloc has everything to do with the available resources at the moment.) I hope Docbloc will be a space to explore some of the questions above and create some space for new, innovative collaborations between makers of documentary theatre, film, and photography.

Ash Marinaccio

July 2021

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